Five talking points from this week's Egyptian League: Zamalek keeper El-Shennawi under fire, highest scoring round

Ahram Online , Tuesday 5 Dec 2017

Highlights from the 11th matchday of the Egyptian Premier League


Soliman's magic continues at Maqassa

Recently- appointed coach Emad Soliman led Maqassa to another comprehensive victory on Monday, with his new team beating Talae El-Geish 4-0 to make it four wins in their last six league games.

Last season's runners up haven't had a taste of victory until Soliman took over on 26 October to collect 14 points out of 18, including a 3-1 victory over Cairo giants Zamalek, to climb back up the ladder to eighth place in the Egyptian League table.

The 58-year old, who had been out of job since the end of his spell at Kuwaiti side Al-Sulaibikhat in August 2016, has made an immediate impact with Maqassa.

 "The team has been playing good matches but struggled upfront. I think Moemen Soliman was quite unlucky. We had to fix some details upfront and also tighten our defense," Soliman said.

 Maqassa scored 17 goals in their six games under Soliman while they had only netted five in as many matches before his arrival. They now boast the most devastating attack in the league.

Winger Hussein El-Shahat and Ghanaian striker John Antwi are terrorizing opposing defenders as they are joint-top scorers of the Egyptian League with 8 goals each.

Defense remains a work in progress as they have conceded seven goals in six games but that is mostly due to their attacking strategies that often leave their backline and keeper exposed.

"The team is on a good track and we are now relieved off pressure following our poor start. We can maintain this level and gain more confidence before going into the African Champions League," Soliman concluded.

High scoring average

This 12th week is one of the most goal-crazy matchdays in this season's Egyptian Premier League with 23 goals scored across nine games, averaging 2.55 goals per game.

Some big results such as Ahly's 4-1 win over Enppi, Ittihad's 4-0 win over Wadi Degla and Maqassa's 4-0 victory over Talae El-Geish have boosted this week's scoring rate that has gone above the 2.4 goals per-game ratio in previous rounds.

Only two games ended in goalless draws: Ismaily v El-Nasr and Petrojet v Dakhleya. Most of the league's in-form strikers were also in action as El-Entag El-Harby's Omar El-Said maintained his fine scoring run, netting his eighth goal of the season to join Ghanaian striker John Antwi and Hussein El-Shahat, whose scoring run came to a halt this week, on top of the scorers' chart.

 Ahly's Moroccan striker Walid Azaro also scored against Enppi to grab his fifth league goal and become his team's top scorer despite criticism of his profligacy.

This scoring mood - if maintained – would make it the highest scoring season in the Egyptian Premier League history.

Galal unfazed by Ahly hammering

Enppi's unbeaten run under the helms of Ehab Galal came to an end in the most brutal way after a 4-1 thrashing by Ahly on Saturday.

Galal, who took over from Tarek El-Ashri in mid October, has turned around Enppi's fortunes after guiding them to three wins and three draws before the collapse against Ahly.

The defending champions find acres of spaces in Enppi's defense and could have doubled their tally if their forwards were sharper upfront.

The 50-year old Galal, who made his name at Maqassa over the past three seasons, is renowned for his attacking approach and high pressing games, which usually leave his defence porous.

Ahly's pacy striker Walid Azaro, Junior Ajayi and Walid Soliman tormented Enppi's defence and goalkeeper with Abdallah El-Said providing defence-splitting passes.

"The big defeat was because we were very bad and not because of Ahly's strength. Ahly have experienced players who knew how to capitalize on our poor form. We have big players too but they were not in their form today," Galal told a news conference after the game.

"I won't change my methods and I am ready to bear the consequences even if we lose in the beginning. At Maqassa, we lost our first six games but then we became very strong and finished second of the league. We will keep on working and fix our errors in the next games," he added.

Mido leaves Wadi Degla after embarrassing loss

Former Tottenham Hotspur, AS Roma, Marseille and Ajax striker Mido stepped down as Wadi Degla's coach following an embarrassing loss that stretched their winless streak to 10 matches in a disastrous league start for the ambitious outfit.

Degla suffered a 4-0 loss to Ittihad of Alexandria to fall three points from safety in 17th place of the 18-team table, leaving Mido in an unenviable position.

The rookie coach, who sought to make up for a brief and unsuccessful spell in charge of Cairo giants Zamalek in the 2015-16 season, endured another disappointing stint with Degla.

He vowed to build a young and exciting team but they could only win once in their first 12 matches, losing six times.

"I submitted my resignation to Wadi Degla officials and I thank everyone at the club for supporting me during my time in charge of the club.  I wish the best for the club in the future," Mido said on his Twitter account.

It remains to be seen whether the 34-year-old, who also works as a television pundit, will manage another team soon. Local reports linked him with the vacant managerial seat of Egypt's U-23 side.

Another blunder for Zamalek's regular keeper

Zamalek's number one goalkeeper Ahmed El-Shennawi was at fault again as his side were held to a surprising 1-1 draw with bottom side Ragaa, putting the shot-stopper under spotlight as he vies with Ahly's Sherif Ekramy and veteran goalie Essam El-Hadary for a regular Egypt place before the World Cup.

A mis-timed jump by the towering El-Shennawi allowed Ragaa's Saleh Moussa, an ex-Zamalek player, to get ahead of him and head home after 17 minutes.

El-Shennawi's blunder comes only five days after his poor pass was intercepted by a Maqassa player and ended up in his own net, with Zamalek's opponents going on to win 3-1.

His disappointing form of late has fuelled debates over whether El-Sehnnawi really deserves to be Egypt's first-choice keeper at next year's World Cup.

Egypt coach Hector Cuper has recently said he would still mull who to field at the Russia finals and would closely monitor El-Shennawi, Ekramy and the 44-year-old El-Hadary this season.

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